This weekend candidates for office started closing out the 2022 election cycle with get-out-the-vote rallies across the state, hoping to energize their base and get voters to the polls on Tuesday.
“The debates are over, the TV commercials are cut, all that’s left is to get this vote out and win this election,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski told voters in Wallingford Saturday.
At United Concrete Stefanowski shared the stage with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has been criss-crossing the country on behalf of Republican candidates.
“I’m here because of one of the things that Bob said. I’m here because Connecticut has to believe that you’re going to win on Tuesday,” Christie, a former two-term Republican governor from a blue state, said.
He said in 2009 he was being outspent three to one in a state where there are a million more Democratic voters and where former President Barack Obama visited the state three times, including the last weekend of the race, “and there was no one, including my wife, who thought I was going to win.”
“As great as it was to be sitting in traffic to get to a Republican rally in Connecticut, your job is only one-third done,” Christie said. “I know it’s not the greatest hygiene in the world but I want you to wear these shirts for the next three days.”
He encouraged the nearly 500 Republicans to talk to their friends and neighbors about why they are voting for Stefanowski.
Stefanowski is behind by double-digits in almost every public poll. However, Stefanowski said it’s much closer than that.
He said his pollster told him the day of the election in 2018 that he would lose by 2 points and he did. He said that same pollster, John McLaughlin, told him Saturday that it’s a “statistical tie,” going into the last three days.
What’s different this year for Republicans?
Christie said the country is really discontent with President Joe Biden and they’re worried about “Democratic leadership, inflation and crime.”
“Midterm elections are a referendum on the party in power,” Christie said. “The referendum is not going to be good here for the Democrats and Ned Lamont has so tightly attached himself in terms of that Washington philosophy.”
He said turnout for Democrats, especially in the major cities, will be tough.
Christie said the polling is off because it’s not modeling what turnout will be in 2022. It’s modeling the turnout in 2018, which is the first election after former President Donald Trump got elected. That election fired up the Democratic base.
“It’s not 2018. It’s much different,” Christie said. “I feel confident about it.”
For his final weekend before Election Day, Gov. Ned Lamont eschewed a large rally with an out-of-state headliner in favor of a string of smaller get-out-the-vote events in the Hartford area followed by an NAACP conference in Bridgeport Saturday afternoon.
Following a brief rally for Democratic door-knockers in East Hartford, Lamont had little commentary on the former New Jersey governor’s presence in the state on Saturday, saying “I haven’t gone with a lot of big, out-of-state guys. For me it’s about Connecticut.”
The governor touched on gun control and abortion rights and said he and other Democrats had tried to set a tone of optimism throughout the campaign in contrast to the anger he felt from Republicans.
“A lot of Connecticut values are being challenged all over the country. They’re trying to take away our gun safety laws, they’re trying to challenge our reproductive choice and they’re doing it in a really angry way, aren’t they?” Lamont said. “I want to make sure that hope and progress triumph over anger.”
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin told volunteers that Lamont had guided the state through the COVID-19 pandemic and managed to run a civil campaign.
“There is something else at stake here. At this time when there is so much toxicity and so much division and so much dishonesty, I’m just really proud that we’ve got a governor who’s a fundamentally good and decent person, doing this for the right reasons and has not given into the temptation to go the other way,” Bronin said.
Lamont encouraged the group to work hard for the remainder of the campaign.
“We need you for the next 72 hours,” Lamont said. “We need you to make sure people know what is at stake, make sure that they vote, their friends vote and their families vote. I want a big turnout, I want people to say they have a stake in this election.”
Afterwards, the governor, who has enjoyed wide leads in the polls, said his primary objective in the final hours of the campaign was to make sure his supporters stayed engaged.
“I’ve just got to push back against complacency. They’re trying to depress turnout, I’m trying to energize people, make sure they know their vote matters, make sure they vote,” Lamont said.
A new national poll of voters found Republicans have also captured the enthusiasm as Election Day nears.
Among Republican registered voters, 60% say they are more motivated to vote, while 2% say they are less motivated, and 36% say they are just as motivated as usual. Among Democratic registered voters, 51% say they are more motivated to vote, while 7% say they are less motivated, and 40% say they are just as motivated as usual.
Among independent voters, 47% say they are more motivated to vote, while 9% say they are less motivated, and 43% say they are just as motivated as usual.
In Connecticut unaffiliated voters made up the state’s largest voting bloc, with 921,367 voters. They’re followed by Democrats, with 811,358, and Republicans with 461,782, for a total of 2.2 million registered voters.
Most people vote in person in Connecticut, but a new law allows more people to vote by absentee ballot due to “sickness.”
As of Nov. 4, more than 61,000 Democratic voters had cast their ballots. That’s compared to 21,700 Republicans and 28,800 unaffiliated voters.